400 DO II Advantages & Tips on Creating Moderate Shutter Speed Blurs « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

400 DO II Advantages & Tips on Creating Moderate Shutter Speed Blurs

What’s Up?

Not much. On my schedule for Wednesday August 24 is work, work, and more work, and a relaxing 3/4 mile swim.

DPI-SIG Naples Speaking Gig

On the morning of Saturday September 10, I will be presenting “A Bird Photographer’s Story” at 9am in the auditorium at Florida SouthWestern State College located at 7505 Grand Lely Drive, Naples, Florida, 34113. Learn more here. If you live anywhere near SW Florida, I hope to see you there. Be sure to come up for a hug. Those who would like me to bring along a mail order item or two from the BAA Online store are invited to contact me via e-mail no later than a week in advance.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending IPTs and dozens of the folks whom I see in the field and on BPN are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 287 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


This image was created on the 2016 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens. the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop as framed: 1/160 sec. at f/9. AWB.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point was on the bird’s upper breast. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Atlantic Puffin flapping in place in the rain

400 DO II/2X III/1DX Mark II Advantages

If you compare working with the tripod-mounted 600 II, the 1.4X II, and the 1DX Mark II (840mm) with hand holding the 400 DO II/2X III/1DX Mark II combo the two huge advantages are very much related: the latter rig is slightly more than four pounds lighter; this allows for far greater mobility. You are able to get into position much more quickly without have to maneuver the tripod around… And by using the knee-pod technique, resting the back of your left forearm on the top of your left knee while sitting, you can–as here–make some pretty sharp images with the 800mm focal length at fairly low shutter speeds.

On average, you will make sharper images with the 600 II, the 1.4X II, and the 1DX Mark II combo and enjoy a bit more reach, 840mm to 800mm. As the size of the subject in the frame is a factor of the square of the focal length, this seemingly small increase in subject size actually turns out to be a bit more than 10%.

When working with tame birds the 400 DO II can serve as your big lens: Galapagos, South Georgia, Antarctica, Gatorland and St. Augustine, and Florida are just a few locations where going a bit lighter can be a Godsend, especially as we age. And there is always the option of working off a tripod in low light. Do understand that at times all bird photographers will find themselves wishing for a longer focal length lens…

Moderate Shutter Speed Blurs

When a bird at fairly close range is flapping or bathing and you are working at moderately fast shutter speeds in the range of 1/125 sec. to 1/500 sec. (or even faster, depending on how close the bird is and how fast it is moving its wings), you can often create images that feature pleasingly blurred wings or wingtips. Avoid thinking like this: “My shutter speed is too slow so there is no point in pressing the shutter button.” If you do, you will miss making some really sweet photos.

Click here to check out a very nice bathing Least Sandpiper image created by BPN Avian Super-Moderator Dan Cadieux at 1/320 sec. Be sure to note the effective focal length of the rig that he was hand holding…

Feel Free

Feel free to critique this image. Please remember that a good critique includes both positives and negatives as well as suggestions for improvement both in the field and during post-processing.

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A Guide to Pleasing Blurs

If you would like to learn the fine points of creating pleasing pan-blurs and in addition, would like to learn the many other techniques that we use to create the very popular and contest-worthy pleasingly blurred images, get yourself a copy of A Guide to Pleasing Blurs by Denise Ippolito and yours truly.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
Monday July 3 through Monday July 10, 2017: $5999: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 6). Two great leaders: Arthur Morris and BPN co-owner, BPN Photography Gear Forum Moderator, and long-time BAA Webmaster Peter Kes.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12. (We may opt to stay in Edinburgh on the night of July 11.) Price and details should be finalized at least six months before the trip but you will need to be a bit patient. It would be ideal if I can get all the work done by the end of September so that folks can arrange their flights then.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

2 comments to 400 DO II Advantages & Tips on Creating Moderate Shutter Speed Blurs

  • avatar James Saxon

    I just love this image. Don’t know what specifically I like but everything works together, placement of the bird, wing blur, background color and blur, small amount of blur in the bottom, color, position of the bird, sharpness, etc. I could go on. Very very nice.